This is a stunning trip to do in the Jungfrau Region. The bus route runs between Grindelwald railway station (altitude 1,034 metres) and Meiringen railway station (altitude 595 metres) via the Grosse Scheidegg mountain pass (altitude 1,962 metres), and takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Scenery on both sides of the Grosse Scheidegg is magnificent, but the mountains and glaciers are more dramatic on the Grindelwald side
I did this trip a couple of times, and in both directions, in September 2016. Travelling in the direction from Grindelwald to Meiringen, I love the steep climb out of Grindelwald and the view into the valley when descending to Meiringen, so I think I like going in this direction best, and prefer to sit on the right-hand side of the bus for the best views.
The landscape on the Grindelwald side consists of steeply sloping meadows bordered by dramatically towering mountain rock faces capped by glaciers. These meadows are partly forested, with rocky outcrops, small rocky streams (some of which were dry in September), and with small huts dotted throughout. Chalets adorned with flowers on the lower slopes add to the beauty of the view. Conifers are the predominant trees in the patches of forest, but there were also some deciduous trees starting to show some autumn colour. Down near Grindelwald, the meadows look groomed, whilst those up higher have longer grass. Heading up to the Grosse Scheidegg, the view changes constantly due to the many switchbacks, with frequent views back into the valley.
On the Meiringen side, the landscape is less dramatic, but still superb, with mountains, glaciers, beautiful forests and vigorous mountain streams.
The mountain road is very narrow, with constant switchbacks to deal with the steep grade. In most places there is not enough room for two vehicles to pass each other, and there are no guard rails. As the PostBus has priority, oncoming traffic has to pull off to the side to allow the bus to pass. There are lay-bys every so often to accommodate this. One lay-by we passed had been taken over by resting cows, so it was fortunate there was no oncoming traffic at that point!
The PostBus horn is used constantly before each blind corner to warn oncoming traffic of the approach of the bus, so drivers can pull off the road in time. However, sometimes a car has to back up to a suitable place in order to pull off the road. All the car drivers I saw were adept at backing up to the previous layby, but on such a road it was pretty interesting to watch! At certain times, two PostBuses will need to pass each other, so one bus will pull off into a lay-by at a pre-arranged place and time, and wait a few minutes for the oncoming bus to pass.
Although the PostBus has priority on this road, that doesn’t hold true when a herd of cows is on the move! Then the Postbus has to find somewhere to pull over to allow the herd to continue on their way! Due to the winding nature of the road, a herd of cows may not be visible until the last minute. When that happened on one of my trips, one of the cowherds dashed out onto the road madly waving a staff to warn the PostBus driver that an encounter with a herd of cows was imminent!
At the end of the trip, the fastest way to get back to Grindelwald or Meiringen is by train. Alternatively, it is possible to incorporate a boat trip on the Brienzersee (Lake Brienz) between Brienz and Interlaken Ost, but this has to be carefully timed. Coming back the same way in the bus is of course also an option if the timing is right.
If there wasn’t enough time to do the whole route, the best part to do would be from Grindelwald to Grosse Scheidegg or Schwarzwaldalp (just past Grosse Scheidegg) and then return the same way.
There are restaurants at Grosse Scheidegg and Schwarzwaldalp for meals or light refreshments. The restaurant at Grosse Scheidegg has a balcony with views down the valley to Grindelwald. At Schwarzwaldalp, the restaurant is in a beautiful mountain setting. Even if doing the whole route, it is nice to break the trip at Schwarzwaldalp or Grosse Scheidegg, but it’s important to check the bus timetable before doing so.
The bus also stops at the Rosenlaui Gorge, but I haven’t been into the gorge myself. After Rosenlaui Gorge, the next stop is at the Rosenlaui Hotel, which is famous for its scenic setting and good food, but I haven’t been there either - yet! Both places are definitely on my list for the future!
Officially, the sector Grindelwald to Schwarzwaldalp is operated by Grindelwald Bus, and the sector Schwarzwaldalp to Meiringen is operated by the PostBus, but in practice you do not always need to change buses at Schwarzwaldalp. The timetable will indicate whether it is necessary.
As the road is impassable in winter, this bus only runs between late May and late October. In 2017, the operating dates are from 20 May to 22 October, but the number of services per day is higher between 10 June and 15 October. To get the timetable for this trip to display in the Swiss Timetable, you need to put in Grindelwald and Meiringen as the departure and destination points, and “Grosse Scheidegg” in the “via” field.
The Swiss Travel Pass provides free travel between Grindelwald and Oberer Gletscher (which is at the edge of Grindelwald village), and between Meiringen and Schwarzwaldalp. The middle sector between Oberer Gletscher and Schwarzwaldalp is discounted at 50% and cost me CHF 9.10 one way in September 2016.
I have attached some photos I took during this trip, together with a screenshot from Google Maps showing the route. The first lot of photos are on the Grindelwald side of the Grosse Scheidegg.